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Scand J Work Environ Health. 2014 Jan;40(1):74-81. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3382. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

Patient transfers and assistive devices: prospective cohort study on the risk for occupational back injury among healthcare workers.

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  • 1National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lersø Parkalle 105, DK 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.



This prospective cohort study investigates work-related risk factors for occupational back injury among healthcare workers.


The study comprised 5017 female healthcare workers in eldercare from 36 municipalities in Denmark who responded to a baseline and follow-up questionnaire in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Using logistic regression, the odds for occupational back injury (ie, sudden onset episodes) in 2006 from patient transfers in 2005 was modeled.


In the total study population, 3.9% experienced back injury during follow-up, of which 0.5% were recurrent events. When adjusting for lifestyle (body mass index, leisure-time physical activity, smoking), work-related characteristics (seniority and perceived influence at work), and history of back pain and injury, daily patient transfers increased the risk for back injury (trend, P=0.03): odds ratio (OR) 1.75 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.05-2.93] for 1-2 transfers per day, OR 1.81 (95% CI 1.14-2.85) for 3-10 transfers per day, and OR 1.56 (95% CI 0.96-2.54) for >10 transfers per day, referencing those with <1 patient transfer on average per day. The population attributable fraction of daily patient transfer for back injury was estimated to be 36%. Among those with daily patient transfer (N=3820), using an assistive device decreased the risk for back injury for "often" and "very often" use [OR 0.59 (95% CI 0.36-0.98) and OR 0.62 (95% CI 0.38-1.00), respectively] referencing those who "seldom" use assistive devices.


Daily patient transfer was associated with increased risk for back injury among healthcare workers. Persistent use of an assistive device was associated with reduced risk for back injury among healthcare workers with daily patient transfers.

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